Most cuisines have their version of salsa verde. It is simply a green sauce – in India it is coriander chutney, in Britain it is a mint sauce, France it is simply verte using herbs like parsley. This salsa verde is Mexican in it’s origin and made from tomatillos.
Tomatillos are not baby tomatoes although you can be forgiven for thinking they are. Tomatillos once dehusked look like small green tomatoes.
Tomatillos (botanical name is Physalis philadelphica and Physalis ixocarpa), also known as the Mexican husk tomato, is a plant of the nightshade family bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Being slightly more acidic than tomatoes, they are great roasted. You can make a great salsa with raw tomatillos too.
In New Zealand, there are a few growers in the Hawkes Bay and they are available only through specialist supermarkets. I got a good crop out of the seeds I planted last year. You can use tinned tomatillos if you can’t get fresh ones.
500g fresh tomatillos or 200g tinned tomatillos
2-3 Hungarian peppers (optional)
Olive oil for roasting
10-12 cloves of garlic
4-6 fresh green chillies, chopped (seeded if you prefer less heat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil like Canola
75g brown onion, finely diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander
Salt and ground pepper
If using fresh tomatillos, preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Remove husks from fruit, rinse in warm water and towel dry. Place tomatillos in a roasting pan, along with the Hungarian peppers and cloves of garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for 30 -40 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the pulp from the garlic cloves. In a blender or food processor, pulse the tomatillos, garlic, peppers and chillies. The salsa verde is nicer if it is chunky so take care not to make the sauce too smooth.
Heat remaining vegetable oil in a pan and cook onion until soft. Add tomatillo mixture and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from heat. Add coriander, salt and pepper.
Store in sterile jars in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.